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Ruby

Burma (Myanmar) is famous for producing the greatest amount of top quality ruby with a fine, clear, deep-red color. Most of the best quality ruby comes from the Mogok Valley in Burma and others from newer sources such as Mong Shu (discovered in the Shan State in 1991), and Namya, in the Kachin State, which experienced a rush in 2000.

"Pigeon blood" was once the paramount color for ruby but this appellation is now tricky as there is no standard behind it. Ruby can be true red or red with some purple or orange overcast or going towards pink. On the last point, the fact is that ruby and pink sapphire are basically the same stone as they are both aluminum oxide with a small amount of chromium. High levels of chromium give red, lower concentrations give pink.

There is no clear and worldwide-accepted borderline between what is a ruby vs. a pink sapphire. Rubies in Mogok and Mong Shu are found either in marble primary deposits in the mountains around the valley or in alluvial placers in the valley. In Namya they are exclusively found in alluvial deposits in this swamp area. All Burmese rubies were born from a metamorphic process (as well as Vietnamese, Nepalese and Afghan stones). They are usually poor in iron, and as a result, show a strong red fluorescence which make them different from their cousins from basaltic deposits in Thailand or Africa. Rubies usually occur in Burma as tabular crystals with hexagonal prisms.

Usually the basal plane shows markings consisting of striations, often as equilateral triangles, and prisms are commonly striated horizontally. Mogok also produces some more rare ruby crystals in which rhombohedrons are so well developed that the stone looks similar to a spinel crystal. For many centuries red spinels and rubies were associated with one another and believed to be the same stone.